Homicide is the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. Criminal homicide takes many forms including accidental or purposeful murder. The crime committed in a criminal homicide is determined by the mental state of the committing person and the extent of the crime.
Criminal homicides also include voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. An example of voluntary manslaughter is hitting someone with an intent to kill them, whereas involuntary manslaughter is unintentionally causing their death. The perpetrator does not receive the same legal action against them as a person convicted of murder.
California Penal Code 187 (California’s murder law) states that “(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. There are three severities of murder in California: First-degree murder, second-degree murder and Capital murder.
Manslaughter is the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or otherwise in circumstances not amounting to murder.
Probable Penalties & Consequences
The sentencing for each type of murder can vary substantially depending on a defendant’s criminal record and the details of the case. Murder is always regarded as one of the most serious offenses, for which the law’s maximum penalty can be imposed. Most jurisdictions authorize a sentence for murder ranging up to life imprisonment, and a minimum sentence of imprisonment for a substantial number of years, commonly as many as ten or twenty.
For the most serious category of murder, some jurisdictions provide a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Penalties for manslaughter vary and may be as high as ten or twenty years’ imprisonment, and a minimum of one or two. If involuntary manslaughter is treated separately, the maximum penalty is less—usually not more than five years’ imprisonment. The penalty for negligent homicide or vehicular homicide usually does not exceed three years’ imprisonment.
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